The Walking Dead: A Review

 Most of the time, zombie movies are thrilling because of the blood and carnage that the zombies create. Running after humans, eating brains, and just being walking, bleeding piles of flesh has, for the most part, been the main draw towards this genre. Rarely has there been a zombie movie that concentrates not on the dead, but on the living.

Robert Kirkman wondered why this was and decided to remedy the situation. Known for his popular comic series Invincible, Kirkman wrote a new story, one based in a zombie infected world, but paid attention to the characterization of his survivors, instead of the growling and snarling of the dead.

The Walking Dead became so popular that it was picked up by cable channel AMC, the company that brought you such dramatic hits like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and developed into a weekly television series. And, in a fit of marketing genius, it debuted last night, on Halloween.

If you had the chance, and the bravery, to watch the first episode last night, then congratulations. Not only were you able to see a shining example of television, but you took your first steps into something huge. Though the action was minimized to only a few key moments, the characterization was set up for the rest of the series. We see the confusion that Rick Grimes, the main character, faces upon waking up n a hospital after being in a coma for an indeterminate period of time. With no one around, and the world eerily quiet, with the exception of the guttural noises from behind a few corners, he needs to piece together just what the hell is going on.

He eventually runs into Morgan and Duane, who have holed themselves up in a house in Rick’s old neighborhood, fighting off the advancement of their own demons. Morgan’s wife died and was brought back by the zombie disease, and now she haunts him and Duane. They are paralyzed with emotion whenever they see her, and with good reason. When a loved one comes back for you, wanting to eat the flesh from your bones, how would you react? Morgan tries to do what’s necessary to free him and his son from the curse that they face. It’s a touching scene, not one that you would find in any recent George Romero-branded movies.

The half-a-girl zombie added emotional relevance
to the premiere of The Walking Dead
With a pilot that was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who also brought us classic movies like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, then it’s easy to see how the emotion and characters are the focal point of the series. Granted, this was the creator’s intention since the beginning of the series, but to have a man like Darabont get behind that notion shows that AMC believes in the series and its direction. Darabont also maximizes the tension in the scenes by minimizing the background music. Not swelling concertos or quirky, single-note piano score. When the danger lurks around the corner, the silence becomes the scariest thing. I really wish some of those big-time movie directors would take a cue from Darabont and realize this. (Yes, I know Darabont is a big-time movie director. But it seems his work isn’t studied enough.)

Too often I am let down by a show or movie that has me so excited for such a long period of time. However, The Walking Dead really delivered on what I was expecting. It stayed true to the source material while managing to take a few artistic liberties of its own. There were a few scenes I was disappointed in, such as the cut to the camp, but I’d be willing to overlook this because of how well the rest of it was. I look forward to a long life with The Walking Dead, and hope that it gets the same respect and dedication that AMC’s Mad Men has gotten. Because it’s that good.

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